Exchange support on Virtual Server

Microsoft has reviewed its policy about Exchange support on Virtual Server. Until today Exchange was not supported on Virtual Server, but from now on running Exchange 2003 SP2 on Virtual Server 2005 R2 is officially supported.

More details are at the following KB article:

Remember, you must have SP2 and Virtual Server 2005 R2. By the way, don’t even think in VMware support.

New Hotmail (aka Mail Beta) starts

The Neowin site has just announced that the beta test process for the new Hotmail started today.

The new look will be instantly familiar to anyone who has used Outlook, with message information on the left, and the body of the email being displayed on the right in the reading pane. Along with this new setup, you have the ability to drag and drop emails into different folders, just as you would do in Outlook. You can also right click on emails in the information pane and choose to reply, delete, forward or print. To accompany the fresh new look Microsoft has upped the storage allowance to 2gigabytes.” 

Newowin also provides some screenshots:

Now all I have to do is wait for my invite to come. If you are interested in this beta program you can sign up here.

Configuring SMTP for Both Authenticated and Anonymous Connections

To reduce administrative overhead, the Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) group needed to change the way Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 makes internal Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) connections. Microsoft IT set the SmtpIpRestrictionFlag attribute to 1 to configure an SMTP virtual server to allow anonymous connections from an explicit list of IP addresses, yet allow all authenticated connections from other Exchange servers.

Read the complete story: Configuring SMTP for Both Authenticated and Anonymous Connections at Microsoft

What’s New in Exchange Server 2003

After the release of Service Pack 2, Microsoft has updated the document “What’s New in Exchange Server 2003“, in order to include the new functionalities.

The sections listed in the following topics contain information about the updates made to Exchange Server 2003 in Service Pack 2.
“Administration Features in Exchange Server 2003”
• New in SP2: Enabling or Disabling MAPI Access for a Specific User
• New in SP2: Enabling Direct Push Technology
• New in SP2: Managing Security Settings for Mobile Clients
• New in SP2: Remote Wiping of Mobile Devices
• New in SP2: Global Address List Search for Mobile Clients
• New in SP2: Certificate-Based Authentication and S/MIME on Mobile Devices
• New in SP2: Tracking Public Folder Deletions
• New in SP2: Manually Stopping and Resuming Replication
• New in SP2: Synchronizing the Public Folder Hierarchy
• New in SP2: Using the Manage Public Folders Settings Wizard
• New in SP2: Moving Public Folder Content to a Different Server
“Performance and Scalability Features of Exchange Server 2003”
• New in SP2: Improved Offline Address Book Performance
“Transport and Message Flow Features of Exchange Server 2003”
• New in SP2: Step 3: Specifying the Servers to Exclude from Connection Filtering
• New in SP2: Sender ID Filtering • New in SP2: Intelligent Message Filtering
• Updated in SP2: Understanding How Enabled Filters Are Applied
“Storage Features of Exchange Server 2003”
• New in SP2: Database Size Limit Configuration and Management

Update for Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter (KB906173)

Microsoft released yesterday the October update for the Outlook 2003 Junk E-mail Filter.

This optional update provides the Junk E-mail Filter in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with a more current definition of which e-mail messages should be considered junk e-mail.

The update is available here or you can use Microsoft Update. As usual the update comes with the corresponding Knowledge Base article:

Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 released!

It’s the big news for today. The Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 has just been released. You can get it here.

Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (SP2) offers new features and improvements to Exchange Server 2003. New features include support for mobility and message hygiene. Improvements have been made to address performance and reliability with public folders and with database size restrictions.

This is so brand new that if you open the link to the release notes, they still say “Community Technology Preview Release Notes” 🙂

Related links:

Optimizing Exchange Storage: a real world example

Exchange storage is a very popular subject nowadays. Sometimes the reason it’s because compliance, other times it’s due to performance reasons. It’s about the latest I’m going to write about.
Exchange storage is such a critical component, that Microsoft thought it deserved a dedicated document with instruction on how to optimize it: Optimizing Storage for Exchange Server 2003. These instructions and guidelines can really make a difference.

To prove it, let me tell you a story:

I have a customer who was dealing with lots of Outlook messages “Outlook is trying to retrieve data from the Microsoft Exchange Server <servername>“.
After a quick analysis of the client’s production environment we concluded that he was having a storage bottleneck.
The next step was to correctly size a new storage configuration that could handle the peak load. The back-end server was an HP ProLiant DL380 G3 with direct attach storage (DAS). After some calculations we concluded that changing the database volume from a RAID 5 to a RAID 0+1 (with just one additional disk) would make the difference.
We also decided to configure write-back cache to that volume. The HP ProLiant DL380 G3 comes with an integrated SmartArray 5i Plus controller. Unfortunately, in order to turn on write-back cache it’s necessary to buy an additional battery. I don’t know if HP has modified its policy on more recent servers, but I strongly think that this battery should come installed on the default server configuration, because it makes such a huge difference.
The client was having an average write latency of 100ms (the recommended value is <20ms). The image below illustrates the original configuration:

After we changed the RAID level to 0+1, we immediately saw performance improvements. The write latency dropped to less than 25ms. Unfortunately I don’t have a performance picture to show you.
But what most impressed us was the effect of the write-back cache. After installing the Battery Backed Write Cache (BBWC) Enabler, write latency dropped even more to a spectacular 3ms. Here’s the picture that proves it:

So, what’s the point with this story?

  • Storage must be sized first for performance and then for capacity;

  • Tuning and write-back cache can really make a difference;

  • You don’t have to buy expensive storage (think SAN) to keep 1.500 users happy.

Here are some additional links about storage sizing:

Messaging & collaboration webcasts for November

Here’s the list of the messaging and collaboration webcasts for November, once again courtesy of Eileen Brown.

Microsoft Webcast: Bring Innovation to Messaging with Microsoft Exchange Server
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 – 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Pacific Time
Ed Wu, Program Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Do you think that e-mail is just another boring commodity? This webcast provides an overview of the current features in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and the exciting ways that organizations are currently using this messaging software. You will also learn about new features in the next release of Exchange Server that innovate in areas like mobility, content filtering, and collaboration.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 3 of 14): Managing Recipient Objects (Level 200)
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
In this webcast we will cover recipient objects in Exchange Server 2003, starting with a look at the types of recipient objects available-User, Contact, Group, Public Folder, and InetOrgPerson. From there, learn how to create, configure, and manage them. We also cover the information store as it relates to these objects and the address lists for locating these objects.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 4 of 14): Public Folders (Level 200)
Friday, November 4, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 offer great storage flexibility, and with it, potential complexity, which could make storage management difficult to administer. Start off right with this webcast about the basics of public folders in Exchange Server 2003. First, get an overview and architectural view of public folders. From there, learn about the overall management of public folders-creating them, setting and managing public folder permissions, replication, referrals, and storage requirements. The webcast concludes with tips on monitoring public folder status and mail-enabling public folders.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 5 of 14): Virtual Server Components (Level 200)
Wednesday, November 9, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 offers quite a few virtual servers, and you have to decide which ones to use, and know how to configure them. This webcast covers what virtual servers are and how Exchange Server 2003 integrates with Microsoft Internet Information Services to provide them. Learn about the five main virtual servers—HTTP, POP3, Internet Message Access Protocol version 4rev1, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and Network News Transfer Protocol—with some coverage of Remote Procedure Call over HTTP. Going beyond technical descriptions, this webcast shows how to create and configure the various settings of each server.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 6 of 14): Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (Level 200)
Friday, November 11, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
The more you know about Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), the better you can configure Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. The SMTP protocol is core to Exchange 2003 and Exchange Administrators require a sound knowledge of the protocol. Join this webcast to gain an in depth understanding of SMTP. Topics addressed include commands and ports for both SMTP and Extended Set of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, how to configure Domain Name System for SMTP, Relays, and Smart Hosts. This webcast includes an important segment on security, which explains how to configure and secure SMTP, firewall requirements, and what makes traffic secure.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 8 of 14): Backup, Restore, and Recovery (Level 200)
Friday, November 18, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
This webcast covers the critical tasks of backup, restore, and recovery, broken down into their three separate processes. The backup section explains what needs to be backed up both on Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and the operating system, types of backups, the role that logs can play in backup strategies, verification, and volume shadow copy. The restore section covers the different restore needs that may arise, from an entire server down to a mailbox, and public folder restoration. The webcast concludes by showing how to recover Exchange servers, focusing on recovery groups and mailbox recovery.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 9 of 14): Monitoring, Performance, and Tuning (Level 200)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
To get the most performance out of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, you must be able to monitor its performance and tune it. This webcast covers the various Exchange Server 2003 monitoring tools and techniques: basic monitoring practices such as event logs and queues, and events and queue issues to monitor; Exchange Monitors that monitor queues, services and disk space; recommended Exchange counters to use and what to look for. The webcast discusses the use of Microsoft Operations Manager as a management tool. The tuning segment present tips and information that can help tune the Exchange Servers.

TechNet Webcast: Using Third-Party Tools to Migrate Notes Databases to the Microsoft Collaboration Platform (Level 200)
Tuesday, November 29, 2005 – 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Pacific Time
Gary Devendorf, Technical Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation
Learn how you can migrate your Lotus Notes databases to the Microsoft collaboration platform, based on Microsoft SharePoint products and technologies, quickly and easily. This webcast introduces and demonstrates several tools offered by third-party providers that facilitate the migration from Lotus Notes to the collaboration platform from Microsoft.

TechNet Webcast: Exchange Server 2003 In Depth (Part 10 of 14): Troubleshooting (Level 200)
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 – 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Harold Wong, Technology Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
Troubleshooting tools can actually complicate your life if you don’t know when to use which tools, and the sequences in which to use them. This webcast covers various Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 troubleshooting tools and the scenarios where the tools are used. Examples include using DCDiag and Netdiag to troubleshoot network and Domain Controller Connectivity issues, RPC Ping Utility to check Remote Procedure Call connectivity, isinteg to check database integrity, and ESEUTIL for various database tasks. This section also recaps the firewall information about what ports to open and how to look for issues in firewall logs.

Microsoft Office System: Using Mission Control and Microsoft Outlook to Eliminate E-mail Overwhelm (Level 100)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005 – 9:00 AM-10:00 AM Pacific Time
Doug Fisher, President, Mission Control
If you receive more than 20 or 30 emails a day (the United States average is 56, according to a recent Microsoft survey), you are probably experiencing some degree of e-mail overwhelm. In this webcast, learn how Microsoft Office Outlook can help you get relief from the stress of e-mail overwhelm by establishing a new set of protocols and best practices to help you effectively manage your email, instead of allowing it to manage you.

Momentum Webcast: Secure Your Exchange 2003 Server with ISA Server 2004 and Antigen (Level 200)
Thursday, November 03, 2005 – 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Pacific Time
Tim Armstrong, Technology Presenter, Microsoft Corporation
Learn how to use Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 and Sybari Antigen to protect your servers running Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 from a variety of externally based attacks. You will learn about best practices for the most common deployment scenarios from product managers on the ISA Server and Antigen teams. The speakers will emphasize configuring and tuning both products. If you are a technical professional or an executive who has a basic understanding of ISA Server 2004 and Antigen, this webcast can help you take your knowledge to the next level.

Momentum Webcast: Take Advantage of New Enhancements for Mobile Devices in Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 (Level 100)
Thursday, November 17, 2005 – 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM Pacific Time
Chris Smith, solutions specialist, Microsoft Corporation
Does your business have all the advantages of secure, flexible, and affordable mobile access? This webcast describes the mobility enhancements in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 that connect users to e-mail and other data from a range of mobile devices. Learn how your business can take advantage of new functionality such as the Always-up-to-date Notification feature, PIN lock settings, the ability to wipe a mobile device clean from a remote location, the ability to configure soft certificates to access Exchange, and more.

Momentum Webcast: Choosing High Performance Storage Options for Exchange Server 2003 (Level 200)
Monday, November 28, 2005 – 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM Pacific Time
Evan Morris, Senior systems Engineer – HP Microsoft Solutions Alliance Engineering, HP
This webcast provides an overview of storage options for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, including storage area networks (SANs), network attached storage (NAS), and Internet Small Computer System Interfaces (iSCSIs). Compare the advantages and disadvantages of the SAN, NAS, and iSCSI storage types, and gain insight into the different options that you can choose to configure a high performance Exchange environment.

TechNet Webcast: Configuring Exchange and VPN Connectivity Using ISA Server 2004 (Level 200)
Wednesday, November 02, 2005 – 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Pacific Time
Michael Murphy, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft Corporation
This webcast shows how you can use Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004 to give users and partners access to e-mail and other resources while helping to secure your network. Learn how to publish resources such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 for Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access, Microsoft Outlook clients, and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) servers. We also show how to use ISA Server 2004 to create secure virtual private network (VPN) connections, enable and configure VPN for roaming clients, configure VPN Quarantine Control, and create a site-to-site VPN connection between a central office and a remote branch office.

TechNet Webcast: A More Secure and Well-Managed Infrastructure (Part 9 of 18): Securing the Exchange Environment (Level 300)
Friday, November 11, 2005 – 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Pacific Time
Keith Combs, TechNet Presenter, Microsoft Corporation
E-mail servers are the primary conduit for viruses entering information technology environments. Large quantities of spam can devour server space and network bandwidth through sheer volume. This webcast presents features and techniques that can help the Microsoft Exchange Server environment achieve strong, layered security. The first topic is the Microsoft Exchange Server Best Practices Analyzer. We examine how this tool sets the baseline for the Exchange environment. The Best Practices Analyzer is crucial because ignoring the best practices for Exchange might negate any other practices used to secure Exchange. Next we examine how to secure Exchange, using the server hardening guidance for Exchange, integration with the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Public Key Infrastructure environment, certificates, digital signatures and client protection.

TechNet Webcast: A More Secure and Well-Managed Infrastructure (Part 10 of 18): Sybari Antigen Overview (Level 300)
Wednesday, November 16, 2005 – 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Pacific Time
Kai Axford, Security Specialist, Microsoft Corporation
This webcast looks at how the Sybari products can be used to provide extra security for Microsoft messaging environments. See how Sybari products mitigate the issues that unwanted or malicious messages can cause.

TechNet Webcast: Securing Exchange Servers Against External Threats with Antigen (Level 200)
Monday, November 28, 2005 – 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM Pacific Time
Peter Eicher, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Corporation
Learn how to use Antigen antivirus to protect your Microsoft Exchange 2003 Servers against external viruses, worms, and spam. This webcast covers Antigen’s multiple engine scanning methodology for identifying the latest virus and worm threats, its combination of anti-spam filtering techniques, as well as updating, configuration, and management capabilities that can help stop threats before they reach critical systems. This webcast is intended for information technology professionals who have a surface-level understanding of Antigen antivirus and anti-spam, and who are interested in expanding their technical knowledge.

A 30GB mailbox

This is not exactly breaking news (Neowin), but I think it deserves to be mentioned in my blog. The site is offering mailboxes with 30 GB (!) capacity. started off with the idea of creating a “All in one” site for the webmaster and avid computer users. Combining personal file storage, GD2 signatures and anonymous email all in one service, which would be free. Our main goal is to increase our space even further, to 50 gigs, or maybe 100 as time goes on.

The site is still in Beta and the registration only works by invitation. So, does anyone have one for me?

Baseline BIS TCO Assessment – v3

The Baseline BIS TCO Assessment analyzes a customer’s actual IT costs and helps you to measure the ROI of migrating to Windows Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003 from NT4, NetWare, Exchange 5.5, and GroupWise. It will only take you about 1 hour to gather information about their IT environment for the tool. The Online Training and a Brand New Project Guide are also available – Training is HIGHLY recommended. This tool is focused on the 50-500 Desktop customer (up to 1000 employees). It is designed to be completed and delivered by a Partner, not the end customer.

I’ve played with the tool a little bit. It gives me a cool report comparing the TCO for the old and new scenarios. The Baseline BIS TCO Assessment – v3 is available here.